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Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel Hardcover – December 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British blogger Phillips's delightful debut finds the Greek gods and goddesses living in a tumbledown house in modern-day London and facing a very serious problem: their powers are waning, and immortality does not seem guaranteed. In between looking for work and keeping house, the ancient family is still up to its oldest pursuit: crossing and double-crossing each other. Apollo, who has been cosmically bored for centuries, has been appearing as a television psychic in a bid for stardom. His aunt Aphrodite, a phone-sex worker, sabotages him by having her son Eros shoot him with an arrow of love, making him fall for a very ordinary mortal-a cleaning woman named Alice, who happens to be in love with Neil, another nice, retiring mortal. When Artemis-the goddess of the moon, chastity and the hunt, who has been working as a dog walker-hires Alice to tidy up, the household is set to combust, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Marie Phillips, a Cambridge graduate, just 30, left her research job at the BBC to work in a bookstore, publish a blog, and write her first novel, Gods Behaving Badly. Reviewers almost unanimously praise Phillips’s daring, high-concept premise and the wit and cleverness with which she recycles mythic tales and gives them a postmodern twist. Occasional complaints about forced, sitcom-worthy humor and reckless, predictable plotting creep into some of the reviews, but most critics send arrows of love her way—with nary a stab to the heart among them.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316067628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316067621
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just read that Ben Stiller's production company has optioned "Gods" for development as a TV series; I hope this hysterically funny yet sweet-tempered farce is not destroyed by a sitcom mentality.

In "Gods Behaving Badly," the gods of Olympus have been holed up in a decrepit London flat for almost 400 years of decay. Forced to make a living, Aphrodite turns to phone sex, Artemis walks dogs on Hampstead Heath, Dionysus runs a sleazy bar, and Apollo has a lame fortune-telling show on cable TV. Eros (Cupid) shoots Apollo with love's arrow, and his lusty gaze falls on poor timid Alice, a cleaning lady attending the show with Neil, a structural engineer who secretly loves her. In pursuit of Alice, Apollo comes close to destroying the world, and nerdish Neil must descend into the Underworld to rescue Alice (and the world) from death.

This *does* I admit sound like a sitcom premise; what rescues "Gods Behaving Badly" is the author's witty dialogue and almost romantic sympathy for her characters - even the naughty ones. Apollo's pursuit of little Alice has a kind of Marx-Brothers manic frenzy to it, and for bawdy comedy the book rivals Christopher Moore (one of my favorite authors), but with a more coherent plot, believe it or not. Read it before television gets hold of it!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By chefdevergue VINE VOICE on October 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book certainly got off to a promising start, enough so that I kept moving along through some of the more tedious Neil-and-Alice moments. Marie Phillips writes well enough so that most people should be able to make their way through this novel in no more than two days.

It does have some laugh-out-loud moments, and some pretty good dialogue, but the author seems to have used up her best material before the first half of the book is completed. By the time the nebbishy Neil begins his (for lack of a better term) heroic quest, I felt myself trudging along obligingly, despite suspecting that an obvious conclusion was waiting for me. Sadly, there were no surprises in store.

It doesn't help that the author, while obviously having done good background research, only seems really interested in the character of Artemis. With the possible exception of Eros, all of the other gods & mortals seem to be filler for the most part. Alice & Neil are extremely mundane, and while this certainly makes sense in the larger context of the plotline, it doesn't necessarily make for engaging characters.

It wasn't a disappointment, and it certainly had some rather amusing moments --- but ultimately, I would have to file this one in the "could have been so much better" category.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on September 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While the concept for this novel has been utilized before by other authors, such as Neil Gaiman's American Gods, this work puts a new face on all those Greek gods you had to study about in high school, and the face is decidedly not complimentary.

The Greek pantheon is now installed in a London townhouse, having moved there in 1665 when prices were cheap. Given the age of the house, it's not surprising that it's not palatial - in fact it's downright grungy, broken-down, and quite filthy, as obviously none of these gods ever stoops to actually cleaning anything. And the gods themselves seem to be only a pale image of what they used to be, with limited power reserves and no apparent real desire to change how things are. And you might remember that these gods had decidedly different ideas about sex and family life, an item that hasn't changed in all the centuries, as these beings are still going at it in ways that would certainly shock poor Mrs. Grundy.

It's this incestuous and tumultuous relationship between two of the gods, Aphrodite and Apollo, that eventually snare two ordinary mortals in its web, one an engineer, one a cleaning lady. How they fare and what influence they eventually have on the on the whole situation forms the heart of the plot, which actually makes sense given the starting assumptions.

There's a fair amount of humor suffusing this work, and some of the portraits of the gods are hilarious - I particularly enjoyed the description of Athena, goddess of wisdom, who can't seem to utter a sentence without using obfuscating polysyllabic words and conveying zero information, much like certain academics. The two mortals are reasonably well portrayed, though not in any great depth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Kunikov VINE VOICE on September 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An easy and quick read with a nice story. The author's imagination helps propel the story as the reader is presented with half a dozen gods and goddesses from ancient Greece/Rome as they find themselves in the 21st century living in London. Mixed in with them become two 'mortals', Neil and Alice, who are madly in love with each other yet don't have the ability to make their feelings clear to one another.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the author developed the personalities of the various gods and goddesses. Their descriptions from ancient stories come to life as we see how materialistic Aphrodite as well as vain. How casually they think of humans and humanity and how much pride they take in themselves and their failing powers trying to preserve as much self respect as they can. Even so, the idea that man was created in God's image takes on a new meaning here, it is as if these gods and goddesses are the extremes of crass human emotions and ideas. Be it faith, chastity, sexuality, jealousy, etc.

A fast read, a fun read, and most importantly an entertaining one. Took me a little over a day of casual reading and it flowed quite well. The dialog will have you laughing to yourself or out loud more than once as these gods and goddesses interact with nature, humanity, and each other. The only thing I was surprised by is the fact that these rulers of the world, with the names that many in this world should be familiar with, are not known by many of the characters they interact with.
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